Sassagoula Floatworks & Food Factory Review
Sassagoula Floatworks & Food Factory is the food court at Port Orleans French Quarter Resort in Walt Disney World. This review has food photos, thoughts on the cuisine, and a general look around this “interesting” counter service spot that serves a menu of American and Cajun-inspired food. In terms of money-saving info, it participates in the Disney Dining Plan as a 1-credit counter service restaurant, and also accepts the Tables in Wonderland card for a 20% discount, which is rare for a counter service restaurant, so take advantage!
In terms of food, Sassagoula Floatworks continues what we’ve seen as a recent trend in food courts at Walt Disney World, and that’s the offering of greater variety, and higher quality options. For a while, food courts at the Value and Moderate resorts were high on stereotypical theme park cuisine, but that’s no longer the case. To be sure, basics like pizza and burgers are still present to satisfy picky eaters, but we’ve noticed more ambitious options in the last couple of years. Kudos to Disney on this.
At Port Orleans French Quarter, this is most definitely welcome, as there is no table service alternative there. When Dixie Landings and Port Orleans Resorts were consolidated in the early 2000s, the table service restaurant at French Quarter, Bonfamille’s Cafe, was closed. French Quarter now “shares” the table service restaurant Boatwright’s Dining Hall, with its sister resort, Port Orleans Riverside.
In terms of the ambiance of the Sassagoula Food Court, well…it’s “interesting” as I said above. Those air quotes don’t quite do it justice…
On paper, the theme of Sassagoula Floatworks & Food Factory makes perfect sense. It’s a storage area for a Mardi Gras parade, and the props on display here are spot-on for what you’d see in the real Mardi Gras parade in New Orleans. In fact, some items are dead ringers for real parade floats.
The potential problem (if you want to view it as such) is the source material itself. The Mardi Gras parade is straight up crazy. It works in the inebriated state of Mardi Gras because that’s part and parcel of the culture. The Krewes and crowds there have the context of the celebration as a backdrop, and understand the silly and (sometimes) satirical nature of the parade and its floats. Much like seeing a giant praying mantis vehicle driving through the desert during Burning Man, these jovial and crazy decorations just work in New Orleans during Mardi Gras.
This particular fella is the perfect mix of jolly and disturbing, so I felt compelled to learn how to create a GIF (greetings from 1999!) in order to adequately convey how he looms over the food court. He is like a mix of Friar Tuck and Roz. Friar Roz, if you will. “I’m watching you, tourists…always watching…”
Now, I said potential problem above because whether this works in Walt Disney World is all a matter of perspective. On the one hand, giant faces gazing down on you while eating are a tad bit creepy. On the other hand, there is a certain charming weirdness to it all. In a way, it’s sort of like Maelstrom: the Food Court.
I’ve come to the conclusion that here, weird is good. Many things at Walt Disney World are done with such meticulous efforts to ensure they are like heightened, idealized interpretations of reality. This is not one of those things, instead embracing the oddities present in the real Mardi Gras parade. It makes for a nice refrain from the norm. I think the theme of the food court is good fun, and it’s nice that it doesn’t take itself so seriously.
Here’s the Fried Chicken & Ribs Combo, which comes with cornbread and two sides. When I ordered this, my server allowed me to choose any 3 sides, but your mileage may vary on that one.
This combo is roughly $4 more expensive than the dedicated chicken or ribs entrees, and in seeing others’ portions on the dedicated entree, I would highly recommend purchasing one of those if paying out of pocket. My order appeared to simply be a half order of chicken plus a half order of ribs. If you’re on the Disney Dining Plan, this combo is better bang for your buck, but it’s still about the same amount of food as the cheaper option, so that “better bang for your buck” is only in theory.
The good news is that the food was excellent. The fried chicken was juicy and tender, with a very thin layer of breading that skewed towards the soggy side of the soggy to crunchy scale.
My order of ribs was pretty small, but very good. In fairness, “bad” and “order of ribs” are words that I very rarely place in the same sentence; these weren’t as good as the ribs at Flame Tree BBQ, but the meat here was tender and well-prepared. I would order either the chicken or the ribs again as individual entrees.
The sides of mashed potatoes and mac & cheese were likewise pretty tasty, making this a solid “comfort food” meal that would probably be large enough to some people to split.
For another meal, I decided to order the Shrimp Po’ Boy with housemade chips.
This sandwich was literally overflowing with shrimp, and was a pretty sizable portion. The breading on the shrimp was a bit heavy-handed, but the light seasoning and crunch of the breading gave the sandwich a great flavor.
I ended up eating about half of the shrimp with a fork (who am I kidding…I picked them up with my hands and ate them like a barbarian), which should be a pretty good testament to the size of this sandwich.
For another meal, I had the Jambalaya with cornbread. Given that Walt Disney World restaurants typically strive for mass appeal rather than strict authenticity, I was expecting this to be really mild. It had surprising oomph to it (although still probably not authentic creole), and I was pleasantly surprised by the flavor of the slightly spicy cajun seasoning blend.
It was still sufficiently mild that I suspect most people could handle it just fine, but it’s probably not for picky eaters. I would choose the fried chicken, ribs, or po’ boy over this, but in no way was I disappointed.
I’ve also had the Muffuletta (albeit at Riverside Mill, next door) and the beignets here, and the only disappointment I’ve ever had at Sassagoula Floatworks & Food Factory is with the latter. These beignets are probably the item for which this food court is best known, and I was unimpressed. They are not even on par with the excellent Mickey Beignets served in New Orleans Square, much less the famed ones at Cafe du Monde.
In fact, I’m not even sure they are technically real beignets. It’s nice that they are freshly prepared, and you can never really go wrong with dough covered in powdered sugar, so they are worth giving a shot to judge for yourself, but I expected more. Perhaps my expectations were too high given all of the hype? I’m sure I’m in the minority with that opinion, but consider it fair warning.
Overall, I am a fan of Sassagoula Floatworks & Food Factory, and would put it just a rung below the best food courts at Walt Disney World. Sure, the kitschy decor isn’t going to be for everyone and may scare small children, but if you can’t terrorize your kids on vacation, what’s the point of even going? The decor is fun, and there’s something for everyone on the menu, with everything from basic theme park fare to well-prepared comfort food to good Americanized Creole choices. I wouldn’t say anything here is mind-blowing or something you’ll crave after your trip, but the unique items here are worthwhile. I’ve dined both here and at Riverside Mill at Port Orleans Riverside a lot, and while I enjoy both, I would give the clear edge to Sassagoula Floatworks, and recommend those staying at both hotels to give it a try.
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If you have dined at Sassagoula Floatworks & Food Court? Did the giant heads watching you eat give you nightmares? Do you agree or disagree with my assessment of the food? We love hearing from you readers, so share your tips, thoughts, or questions in the comments!
It appears the menu has changed. We are going there in September and the menu that Disney publishes does not have any POboy for lunch or dinner. Bummer!
We stayed at French Quarter in April 2015 and I definitely agree with your assessment of the decor. I found that it did oddly work.
We’ll be staying at French Quarter again in a few weeks, and I heard that they’ve remodeled the Floatworks. I’ll be curious to see what’s changed about it.
“In a way, it’s sort of like Maelstrom: the Food Court.” Haha, now I must go!
Sorry, this is a troll-free restaurant. 🙁
I agree with you on the beignets. My daughter and I were really looking forward to them, but they were mostly air. Our first beignets ever were at Cafe Du Monde so that’s a lot to live up to, but we have a Princess and the Frog cookbook that has an amazing beignet recipe that we make which is so much better than Sassagoula’s. I was also disappointed that the Shrimp Po’Boy was only served at lunch when I stayed there (2/14) so I never got to have it as I was always in the parks during lunch.
I’ve been hoping to see a review for this place! The shrimp po boy looks as yummy as I had imagined! Yay!
The greens are amazing as well… could eat an entire meal of that alone.
I didn’t get a chance to try the greens. I’ll have to add that to the list for next time. Thanks for the tip!
Perfect timing for me on this post… just arrived at WDW this morning and staying at French Quarter! Thank you 🙂
That creepy fella is Bacchus, god of wine! He has his own parade in New Orleans and is considered one of the super krewe (largest parades in city). http://neworleanscitybusiness.com/files/2015/01/Bacchus_2.jpg
I believe all of the props in this food court were brought in by Blaine Kern who creates majority of the Mardi Gras floats/decorations.
We’ve stayed here once before and the place was decent and had food we’re used to eating, so that was nice.
Source: From New Orleans.
Meh, I like the name “Friar Roz” better. Rolls off the tongue. You should tell “the management” in NOLA to rename him. I won’t even charge my standard consulting fee! 😉
Sassagoula Floatworks & Food Factory was our only disappointing food in all of our 8 day/7 night stay this past August. And it was repeatedly disappointing. The food wasn’t awful, but we found ourselves avoiding it if at all possible. Also, though, the service was repeatedly exasperating with long lines, long waits for the food to be cooked once you made it to the front of the line, and surly/uninterested servers. Ah well, nearly everything else about our trip was wonderful!
Linda & Dianna – Wow…interesting that both of you had issues with service. Normally, I shrug off isolated service complaints as they really can happen anywhere, at any time. But two different parties having repeated issues is much more telling. Thanks for reporting back on this.
I find it hilarious that you rave about this place because I usually agree with your assessments. We just stayed a week at French Quarter in late Oct and had the worst service in this food court. Not even just the once, but three separate times! So the poor attitude from the workers definitely spoiled whatever deliciousness the food may have had. The shining example was when I asked to use one of my snack credits for the infamous beignets and was quoted “no.” with no explanation or expansion on that statement whatsoever. (It turns out I was out of snack credits even though the last receipt I had still showed two remaining. Props to the front desk for sorting that out!)
Maybe we will give them another try on our next trip.
Tom – I’d say you’re spot on with the possible exception of the beignets. We enjoyed them quite a bit, but that might be because a.) we’d never tried one outside of WDW and b.) we used snack credits to get the big order.
The food isn’t going to win any awards but I can vouch for the need to eat the overflow shrimp by any means necessary – that po’ boy is a monster sammidge.